Wake Up Call: ABA Approves Updated Guidance for Litigation Funding

Aug. 5, 2020, 12:28 PM

In today’s column, at the ABA’s virtual annual meeting, its main governing body adopted a resolution urging states to drop risky in-person bar exams; the ABA got a new president and president elect; Big Law firms’ revenues only dropped by single percentage points in 2020’s second quarter, but the rest of the year could bring more declines; Jenner & Block and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s disputes with their landlords could provide a template for Big Law’s lease renegotiations post-Covid; Paul Hastings is the latest firm to expand its life sciences practice amidst the pandemic.

  • Leading off, the American Bar Association’s main governing body, the House of Delegates, overwhelmingly approved new updated best practices for litigation-funding arrangements during the ABA’s virtual annual meeting that ended yesterday. The update, the first since 2012, seeks to stay neutral on such controversies as fee-splitting and mandatory disclosure of funding arrangements. The new guidance advises lawyers to ensure that clients keep control of matters. (American Lawyer)

  • ABA delegates yesterday agreed on a resolution asking states to scrap in-person bar exams until public health authorities can confirm it’s safe to hold them. (BLAW)

  • The ABA got a new president yesterday, Phoenix-based litigator at Snell & Wilmer Patricia Lee Refo, who took over for a one-year term from outgoing Judy Perry Martinez. (AmericanBar.org) (ABAJournal.com) Reginald M. Turner, a Detroit-based member and litigator at Clark Hill, took over as ABA president-elect. (AmericanBar.org)

  • Despite the pandemic, Big Law firms’ revenue drops were limited to single percentage points in 2020’s second quarter, but the year’s last six months could be a different story, this report says. (Business Insider)

  • Some Big Law firms have started reversing pay cuts they made early in the pandemic. But it’s probably too early to say things are back to normal. Podcast. (Above the Law)

  • Disputes over office lease provisions in Jenner & Block and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s litigation with landlords could become a model for other law firms in negotiating new leases post Covid-19, real estate experts say. (American Lawyer)

  • Paul Hastings is the latest firm to expand its life sciences practice amidst the pandemic. The L.A.-based firm, which created its practice in June, poached Sidley Austin FDA regulatory and enforcement partners Nathan Sheers and Peter Lindsay. They’ll both be based in Washington and also be part of the firm’s white collar defense practice. (American Lawyer)

  • Munger Tolles tops American Lawyer’s latest annual “A-List,” which ranks firms based on revenue but also takes into account cultural factors such as pro bono work, associate satisfaction, racial diversity and gender diversity among the equity partnership. (American Lawyer)

  • Big Law veteran Allison Charney started in February as executive director of the six-year-old Mount Sinai Medical Legal Partnership, a group that has been helping patients with Covid-19-related legal matters. (BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • A New York-based Jones Day partner told a Washington federal judge the firm’s parental leave policy, which gives fathers eight fewer weeks than mothers, is not “sex-based” and does not discriminate against fathers. (American Lawyer)

  • Andersen Global, a tax and legal services network created by Andersen Tax LLC, has signed agreements with local firms in Chile and expanded its footprint to 11 countries in the Caribbean, with legal services in seven of them. (Law.com International)

  • Milbank advised Singapore-based fintech company Triterras, a trading and trade finance blockchain platform that targets small and medium-sized enterprises, on an agreement with special purpose acquisition company Netfin Acquisition Corp., for Triterras Fintech to become a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq Stock Market. White & Case and Winston & Strawn are advising Netfin on the transaction, which would value the new Triterras at an estimated $674 million. (GlobeNewswire.com)

  • New York Magazine profiled the two lawyers accused of firebombing an NYC Police vehicle in the George Floyd protests. (NYMag.com)

  • Microsoft Corp. president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said the company aims to reduce its waste to “zero” by 2030. (Corporate Counsel)

Laterals, Moves

  • Cooley lost two more partners after losing two earlier this summer. Corporate partner Peyton Worley joined the emerging companies practice at Latham & Watkins as a partner in New York after about 13 years at Cooley. (American Lawyer)

  • Haynes and Boone said corporate restructuring lawyer Richard S. Kanowitz joined the firm as a partner in New York. Kanowitz arrives from Cooley, where he spent over 20 years, including as a partner. (HaynesBoone.com)

  • Pillsbury hired two insolvency and restructuring partners in New York, John Pintarelli, arriving from Morrison & Foerster, and Patrick Fitzmaurice from Troutman Pepper. It says the hire is part of a long-term plan that predates the Covid-19 crisis. (BLAW)

  • Seyfarth added government contracts lawyer Adam Lasky as a partner in the firm’s litigation department. He joins from Oles Morrison in Seattle, where he served as chair of its government contracts practice group. (Seyfarth.com)

  • Wall Street firm Davis Polk & Wardwell made a rare lateral hire, getting longtime Gibson Dunn & Crutcher antitrust partner D. Jarrett Arp in Washington. (BLAW)

  • Management-side worklaw firm Littler added two new attorneys to their Reno office. Karyn M. Taylor, who spent 10 years at Littler earlier in her career and was most recently associate general counsel for NV Energy, returned to the firm as a shareholder. Holly J. Stewart joined as an associate from Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. (Littler.com)

  • San Diego-headquartered insurance-defense firm Tyson & Mendes opened an office in Chicago, recruiting two litigators to run it. Scott Ruksakiati, who will be the new branch’s managing partner, arrives from Masini, Vickers, Ruksakiati & Hadsell, P.C., which he co-founded. Mark Shanberg, who was an attorney at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicke, joins as senior counsel. (TysonMendes.com)

  • Former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Jim Greenwood joined DLA Piper as a senior policy adviser to the firm’s litigation and regulatory practice in Washington, D.C., and as chair of the firm’s new life sciences, health, policy and regulatory subgroup. (DLAPiper.com)

  • Michael Best Strategies hired consultant Donald Conrad as a principal in its Waukesha, Wisconsin, office as part of the business and community solutions health care team. (MichaelBest.com)


  • CR Fitness Holdings LLC, a Florida-based company backed by private equity, recently hired fitness industry veteran Christy Stross as its first chief legal officer. The hire comes as the industry, and its lawyers, deals with Covid-19’s economic fallout. (BLAW)


  • Hunton Andrews Kurth posted a video of a July 23 webinar in which leaders of its global privacy and cybersecurity practice and the Centre for Information Policy Leadership discussed the implications of the EU top court’s recent Schrems II decision, which voided a mechanism that has allowed over 5,000 companies and organizations to transfer personal data from the EU to the United States. (YouTube.com)

  • Legal services provider Haystack ID merged with NightOwl Discovery to create a full-service corporate eDiscovery company. (Legaltech News)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com

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